Japan’s 2018 plastic waste shipments fall 30% after China’s import ban

Analysis by the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (IGES) showed on Feb. 21 that Japan’s shipments of plastic waste overseas in 2018 decreased 30 percent from 2017. China’s restriction of plastic waste imports, amid concerns over environmental pollution, had a big impact on the decrease, since China had been the largest export destination with plastic waste in high demand as feedstock for recycled materials.

Southeast Asian nations became alternative destinations, but a drastic increase of imports is unlikely as there are moves in those countries to tighten the restrictions on such imports.

Having nowhere to go, the waste is piling up in Japan. Yoshinori Morita, a visiting researcher at IGES who conducted the analysis, pointed out, “Domestic countermeasures should be promoted further, such as obliging manufacturers of plastic products to use recycled materials.”